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post #1 of 22 Old 07-28-2011 Thread Starter
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Acquiring paper charts

The conventional wisdom is that you always want to carry paper charts as backups and I don’t disagree with that – but how do those cruising long range manage and mitigate the costs of all that paper?

I’m considering some future cruising between the Chesapeake Bay and New England and would like to get some paper charts of the US mid Atlantic and northeast coast for backup and route planning purposes. It looks like the Maptech ChartKits for Regions 3 and 4 will get me the coverage I need for a little over $200 for both. Looking at some of the other options like print on demand it doesn’t look like I could do better from a cost vs. coverage perspective but $200 seems like an awful lot when you consider the small slice of coastline it covers. If I were ever to want to extend my cruising territory I can see these costs adding up very quickly into the thousands just to have US coastal coverage and multiple thousands if traveling outside of the country.
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post #2 of 22 Old 07-28-2011
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post #3 of 22 Old 07-28-2011
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Quote:
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The conventional wisdom is that you always want to carry paper charts as backups and I don’t disagree with that ...
I'd like to think that the conventional wisdom is that you carry paper charts and USE them, not as backups, but as your primary navigational reference.

I know some local opinionaters call this attitude "old school" but thoughtful sailors might read hazards of GPS chart plotters and make up their own minds.

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post #4 of 22 Old 07-28-2011
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Charts

I buy a few print on demand charts for our regular cruising grounds at the beginning of the season and update as needed according to the weekly LNM. If a trip is planned outside of that range, I purchase a chart so that it arrives a few days before departure. I also update the electronic charts that I use with Polar Navy each week or whenever NOAA posts updates.

But that's for a few charts that get used regularly.

We belong to Seven Seas Cruising Association and they have a chart exchange section on their bulletin board. You don't have to be a member to access the bulletin board. You might find some charts there that someone is willing to swap/donate. I think it's worth the $40 investment for membership. It might be a way to keep your costs down. If it's an older chart, just make any updates to it using the appropriate LNM.

Perhaps Sailnet could start its own chart exchange section and leave the Facebook integration nonsense alone.

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post #5 of 22 Old 07-28-2011
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Yeah, costs can get insane pretty quickly, especially when venturing outside of the States… It’s a shame costs have escalated so dramatically, it really will spell the end of paper charts eventually…

The Maptech chartkits are generally the best bang for the buck for popular cruising grounds, as are Richardson’s for the Great Lakes… Keep your eye on eBay, I’ve scored some good chart deals there…

I’ve had pretty good luck with portfolios from Bellingham Chart Printers, perhaps the single best way to cut costs when venturing further afield… However, they often use DMA charts for many countries, which are generally not as good as the locally produced charts for a place like Norway, for example. Still, their greyscale reproductions have gotten quite good, and on a smaller boat their option of a 2/3 size reproduction size can be practical…

Discounted Nautical Charts, Reproductions, Electronic Charts & Navigational Software | Bellingham Chart Printers

Canadian charts are tough, they maintain the copyright and can’t be reproduced by private companies like Bellingham…. You pretty much have to buy originals, best price I’ve found is from Maryland Nautical or Landfall Navigation…

As Donna mentioned, the SSCA exchange is a good source. Another good source for used foreign charts is here, I’ve gotten very good service from them:

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post #6 of 22 Old 07-28-2011
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My solution is a 12v supply for two older laptops on which I have Maptech 2002 chart programs. NOAA charts, d'loaded from their site can be loaded into the program (tedious) but then again- I have every single chart produced by the US government. Every harbor, approach, and anchorage. Back up? Solution- two machines each with two seperate power supplies. Simple, quick, accurate, and best of all- free. One can find the program for free on thepiratebay.org I have 130+ charts of the S.Pacific, and the weigh in at like, 35# they take up a hell of a lot of space, they mold, etc. I am done with paper charts. Oh- I also back up the files every year to the two machines, and also to two portable hard drives. IMO- I have more redundancy than anyone with paper charts.
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post #7 of 22 Old 07-28-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Captain Chris View Post
My solution is a 12v supply for two older laptops on which I have Maptech 2002 chart programs. NOAA charts, d'loaded from their site can be loaded into the program (tedious) but then again- I have every single chart produced by the US government. Every harbor, approach, and anchorage. Back up? Solution- two machines each with two seperate power supplies. Simple, quick, accurate, and best of all- free. One can find the program for free on thepiratebay.org I have 130+ charts of the S.Pacific, and the weigh in at like, 35# they take up a hell of a lot of space, they mold, etc. I am done with paper charts. Oh- I also back up the files every year to the two machines, and also to two portable hard drives. IMO- I have more redundancy than anyone with paper charts.
And all it would take is one lightning strike for immediate loss of charts and a general power failure for a post dated loss.

I have heard two distress calls this year from boats reliant on electronic charting with their systems down and no knowledge of their location.

Last edited by TQA; 07-28-2011 at 08:31 PM.
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post #8 of 22 Old 07-28-2011
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And all it would take is one lightning strike.
And the electronics don't have to be plugged in, correct?

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post #9 of 22 Old 07-28-2011
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Quote:
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Captain Chris View Post
My solution is a 12v supply for two older laptops on which I have Maptech 2002 chart programs. NOAA charts, d'loaded from their site can be loaded into the program (tedious) but then again- I have every single chart produced by the US government. Every harbor, approach, and anchorage. Back up? Solution- two machines each with two seperate power supplies. Simple, quick, accurate, and best of all- free. One can find the program for free on thepiratebay.org I have 130+ charts of the S.Pacific, and the weigh in at like, 35# they take up a hell of a lot of space, they mold, etc. I am done with paper charts. Oh- I also back up the files every year to the two machines, and also to two portable hard drives. IMO- I have more redundancy than anyone with paper charts.
And all it would take is one lightning strike for immediate loss of charts and a general power failure for a post dated loss.

I have heard two distress calls this year from boats reliant on electronic charting with their systems down and no knowledge of their location.
Yeah, I always have to chuckle when I hear simple multiples of stuff that requires electrons to flow aboard a small boat referred to as "redundancy"... (grin)
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post #10 of 22 Old 07-28-2011
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If you or someone you know has access to a large format printer (formerly known as plotters, but now they are just bubblejet printers that print on rolls), you can download US charts using Maptech software mentioned above. You download the charts from the listed sites and print them into PDF's. Then you can print them out full scale on the printer.

If you have any friends who are engineers or architects or work for them, you might be able to get use of the machine. Even with buying my own paper and ink (to stay in the good graces of my company while I use their equipment) I end up paying about $1-2 per chart, plus my time, of course.

If you look around in the internet, you can find old DMA charts for global coverage, at least for small scale charts, which would cut down on what you would actually have to buy.

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